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Debt Advice Firms Warned Against Spam Marketing Messages, Says Trust Deed Scotland Provider

Debt advice firms that persist in spamming consumers and offering debt help by email, text or answer machine messages could be stripped of their consumer credit licence in a crackdown by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), says Scottish debt solutions company, TrustDeeds.net

This latest move by the OFT leads on from a major review of the industry in 2010, which revealed serious issues with the way it was operating and resulted in 129 debt help companies losing their credit licences, with a further 67 warning letters sent out. Of those who had their credit licences revoked, 87 have now left the market of their own accord or through enforcement action.


In addition to the crackdown on spam marketing messages, the OFT has issued a number of other guidelines it expects debt advice companies to adhere to or risk their licence, including:

  • Not giving staff financial incentives that could encourage mis-selling unsuitable products
  • Misleading consumers about the status of the company, such as having a website that mimics official government or charity debt advice websites
  • Referring consumers to not-for-profit debt advice firms where more appropriate
  • Having systems in place to identify vulnerable consumers, such as those with mental health or capacity issues

Director of the OFT's Consumer Credit Group, David Fisher, said: "All too often it may be particularly vulnerable consumers who fall victim to poor quality debt advice and we will continue to take action against businesses that fail to follow our guidance."

 

In 2011 the Financial Ombudsman saw complaints about debt management companies rise by 18%, and over half of these were found in favour of the consumer.


Chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “It’s good to see the OFT tackle unacceptable marketing practices carried out by many debt management companies. It’s right that firms should end activities such as sending unsolicited text messages, emails and voicemails, and offering inappropriate financial incentives to staff.”


A spokesperson for Trust Deed Scotland provider, TrustDeeds.net, said: “People need as much help and support as possible to make a decision on what action to take to tackle their debts, and that means giving them all the information they need in the most transparent way possible. The guidelines make sense and for many debt management companies they reinforce the good practice that they already carry out, especially those in trade associations DEMSA and DRF.


“It is particularly pleasing to see the crackdown on firms that offer financial incentives to their staff to get them to sell products regardless of their suitability. This was a big factor in how PPI mis-selling grew by astronomical proportions into the mess that we see today. It seems almost unbelievable that the lessons from this have not been learnt and that companies should still be taking the risk that a consumer will make a complaint of mis-selling to the Financial Ombudsman.”


However despite the crackdown and the new guidelines, it is still not clear how the OFT intends to tackle the legal loophole that allows firms that have had their licences revoked to carry on trading while they are appealing the decision.

Write Off Unaffordable Debts

Entering into Scottish Trust Deed will allow you to write off unaffordable unsecured debts leaving you a clean slate and a brighter future to look forward to. There are some debts that cannot be written off. Click here* for more information on the limitations.

Relief From Debt Pressure

Unlike an IVA which can lasts for a minimum of 60 months, the minimum time to complete a Scottish Trust Deed is 48 months (4 years) meaning you will be free from the pressures of debt quicker. Click here for more info on IVA's

Legislated Debt Solution

Trust Deeds are a legislated debt solution, which unlike debt management, means as long as you keep up the arranged repayment plan, you can return to a more stable financial position in life and start to plan for a brighter future.

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